Rumors that high-quality, professional web design no longer matters have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, this statement couldn't be farther from the truth.
Now, more than ever before in the history of the Internet, good web design is the key to improving a business's brand, boosting sales, and bringing in new leads.
In fact, web design might even be more important for your business's online marketing efforts than your content itself. The human brain is wired to process visual information faster than the written word, which is why 40% of web users tend to respond better to visual information than to plain text posts. With the right web design, consumers will be drawn to your business -- and will be less likely to navigate away to other websites.
“If good design is doing its job, it is managing your perception of an experience in many ways—both obvious and not so obvious," Randall Smith, founder of a Salt Lake City brand management agency, recently told Forbes. "How you feel, and therefore if whether you’re going to engage and buy, is directly influenced by the design of a website, a package or a business card.”
Knowing this, businesses today can't afford to neglect their web design. When combined with engaging, meaningful content, a high-quality web design scheme can be the key to tremendous growth and a better bottom line.
Here's a look at a few of the key design elements and strategies that will help make your web design eye-catching, fresh and modern:
Website typography: Make an impression with font
Surprisingly few people understand the power of fonts and typography. Fonts can reveal tons of information about what your business does and what values it represents. As a result, the wrong font choice can cripple your web design, even if you have the best illustrations and graphic content on the Internet.
Still not convinced that typography and font are a crucial part of any professional web design? These three reasons why typography can't be ignored will convince you:
Fonts are closely tied to personality and identity
Building a brand requires more than just written content that conveys a certain tone. The fonts and typography you choose for your website is also a key component to your business's brand. Typography allows you to convey your personality by creating an atmosphere on your business's web page. Whether you want to portray an image of lighthearted fun or focused professionalism, font is the way to do it
Typography can make or break readability
Any online marketer knows how important web content can be for a campaign. It's hardly surprising that content marketing is able to generate three times the leads of traditional outbound marketing while costing 62% less. As web users view your content, you want them to be able to actually read it. The font itself is just one component of readability -- font size, spacing, contrast, alignment, justification and background are all important factors to consider for readability. Using hard-to-read fonts will almost guarantee that a user will close out of your website and seek out one of your competitors.
Typography displays professionalism
All good web designs have the same thing in common: they wield the tools of typography to their advantage. This is because typography is at once an effort of both minute detail and the bigger picture. The words on your website are an integral part of your overall web design. Good typography is a matter of critical thought and understanding of design principles -- and your customers will be able to recognize good typography when they see it.
Design minimalism: Less is more
In the earliest days of the Internet, web pages were hopelessly cluttered with text, links, images and those ubiquitous blinking banner ads. Those days, however, are long gone. In 2015, businesses need to make key information on their websites easy to find for their potential customers. As a result, the trend of minimalist web design has become widely adopted by businesses that want to generate new leads from their online audiences. There is some truth to "less is more," after all.
To learn more about how minimalism can be incorporated into any professional web design, take a look at these three pillars of minimalist design for the web:
It may seem counter-intuitive, but negative space is one of the most effective forms of minimalist web design. Negative space can be any color -- you don't have to have a colorless void as your home page. This design technique is so useful because it allows you to draw your users' eyes to certain parts of your page faster; the more negative space present, the more the eye will be drawn to elements on the page like links and icons. It also prevents users from being overwhelmed with the contents of your web page.
Large, stunning photography
Another key aspect of minimalist design is the use of oversized, high-resolution images as the background of a web page. These images should make use of negative space themselves, such as open skies and blank white walls -- don't use photography that contains too many distracting items. By using images as the backdrop for your professional web design, you can get the added benefit of conveying more about your brand to your website's visitors.
Simple, intuitive navigation
Lastly, any professional web design must make it easy for customers to find the information they want within seconds. Minimalist web design is one of the best ways to ensure this happens. The hamburger icon -- the three-lined icon that brings users to a navigation menu -- has become more popular than ever, as a result. These icons are often located in the corner of the home page, reducing clutter and offering more open space to help guide users toward the information they want.
Images: A picture is still worth 1,000 words
As stated before, high-quality imagery is a key tenet of professional web design. You can no longer afford to litter your pages with awkward and obviously staged stock photography. These days, users will be engaged by images that contain useful information; at the same time, they're more likely to ignore fluff pictures added as an afterthought to a web page. Every image should serve a key purpose to your brand and the messages you're trying to convey. The right photo can explain what your business does in a tiny fraction of the time it would take to explain the same information with words. For example, a website for a device that allows people to pay for products and services by scanning their credit cards on their mobile devices would want to have an image of someone scanning their card through the device. It's crucial to remember that you are your images, and vice versa.
At the same time, it's important not to bog your website down with too many pictures. Images can take a long time to load. These days, 47% of web users expect a website to load in two seconds or less, with a one-second load time being optimal, thus illustrating the need for moderation with your images. Chances are, your competitors' website load times are being kept low by avoiding too many images, as well, meaning you can't afford the risk of bogging down your pages with tons of images.
Outdated design elements: A death sentence for your business
When was the last time your business updated its web design? If the answer is more than five years, your website may be long overdue for a new professional web design. Over the last decade, the world of web design has evolved at breakneck speed, and web users can instantly tell if a website looks dated or not. In many cases, users won't stick around to sift through an unattractive web design; they'll often just go to a different search engine result.
Not sure which web design trends and techniques are outdated and passe in 2015? Here's a look at three of the biggest, most outdated professional web design faux-pas you shouldn't be making anymore
Avoiding mobile optimization
These days, any website that hasn't adapted to mobile-ready web design is essentially guaranteeing that they'll be missing out on tons of new customers. A stunning 40% of mobile web users will hit the back button if a site hasn't been optimized for mobile browsing. When more people browse the Internet on their mobile devices than on their desktop computers, this is a mistake no business can afford to make. Additionally, Google's algorithm now penalizes websites that haven't adapted to mobile web design, meaning you could be hurting your search engine rankings at the same time.
Back in the early to mid-2000s, many websites greeted users with a flash introduction -- often a short video meant to welcome users to the site. However, these flash intros are some of the most irritating things for web users. They aren't adapted to mobile browsers; they take a long time to load; they startle users with unexpected audio; they distract users from finding the information they seek. These flash videos rarely offer anything of substance to users, so it's best to just retire them altogether.
Auto-play music or video
When was the last time you stumbled upon a website that had music or video automatically playing and actually enjoyed it? The answer is likely "never." And when more people than ever before are browsing the web on their mobile devices, the presence of loud, unexpected music can be embarrassing and unwelcome. Rather than try to find a pause or mute button, many people will just leave your website and likely never return again.
A business's brand is increasingly tied to the imagery and design it chooses to display on its website. Potential customers can discern a surprising amount of information about what your business does and the values it represents just by looking at your home page. Additionally, consumers are visiting your site because they're seeking information about your business; your website design should make this information readily available to them. Your website is often the first point of contact between a customer and your brand; make sure customers are getting the same experience from your website that they would get if they were to walk into your business in person. Your web design should show legitimacy, expertise and user-friendliness.
Web users aren't the only ones judging your business by its website -- your search engine rankings may also depend on the quality of your web design. Search engine algorithms closely analyze the appearance and functionality of every website, ranking them accordingly. Things like responsive web design and mobile web optimization are no longer optional if you want to rank well on the search engines. And when a stunning 70% of all mobile web searches will result in consumer action within an hour, being on the first page of the search engine results is an absolute must.
Knowing this, you can't afford not to enlist the help of professional web design and search engine optimization companies to make your site look the best it possibly can. Your brand and your bottom line both depend on it.